Review: Spearhead are back with another compilation featuring some of their music from the past, as well as a handful of brand new cuts. The final track on the release - The Vanguard Project's remix of 'We All' by L.A.O.S is the highlight, a brand new outing which rolls out a euphoric string section to great effect, a hands-in-the-air anthem which will make want to be in the rave. Phaction's remix of 'Mirror Image' came out last year, and we've been in love with its cascading drum section and adrenaline-fuelled vocal magic ever since, a truly wonderful number that's bright, shiny and full of pure vibes. Wicked compilation.
Review: With some massive Metalheadz dubs causing hype this year, Phaction super-charges his golden vein of form with this powerful package on Bcee's Spearhead. It's an all-star cast, too; the equally unstoppable Bristolite Charli Brix links in for the dreamy title track, Riya adds her gilded tones to two tracks - the subdued waves of "The Fall" and the skippier sunshine charms of "Obsession" with Hugh Hardie. Elsewhere we go deep on "Cherished One" and sign out with an exceedingly naughty take on Technimatic's 2013 Spearhead jam "Mirror Image". Premium dude, premium.
The Vanguard Project - "Is This Love" (feat Lucy Kitchen - Dexcell remix) - (4:59) 172 BPM
Review: Spearhead Records - which was started by Bcee in an internet caf? - is hitting its 100th release and celebrating the fact with a huge compilation of brand new tracks, including contributions by Calibre, Technimatic, LSB and Bcee himself. Staying true to the label's origins, it's pretty much all gorgeous rolling liquid and we're very much into it. One of the highlights is the Bcee refix of his seminal 'Back to the Street', which has been given a revamped bassline and a fresh veneer of bassy purpose. It's not just the old on this album, though, and Walk:r lays down the gauntlet with 'Wallflower', a sublimely subtle, pacey piano tune that rolls out in delightful fashion. Wicked stuff here from one of the best in the game.
Review: There are two things you need to know about Riya... One: She's one of drum & bass's longest-standing and authentic singer/writers. Two: she works with dopest of producers. "Hurt Heals" is the best example of her range and her collaborator flexibility since her Sublimation album a few years back as the likes of Villem & Mcleod, Nyfmo & ZeroZero, Alibi, Phaction, Random Movement and Maverick Soul all get involved and create perfect beats for her dreamy, introspective soul. Highlights include the warm jazz feels of "Left Behind", Phaction's groaning bass on "Never Wrong", DRS's bars on "Ships" and the big feels slo-mo flip of "Numbers". Here's another thing you need to know about Riya... She's awesome.
Review: Double trouble: Riya's critically received debut album from summer 2015 enjoys a deluxe twist with double the amount of tracks on. As well as the album itself there are 13 fresh cuts including new originals such as the Gill Scott-style street soul pieces with Maverick Soul "Bittersweet" and "We Belong", the perfect piano-powered gospel roller "Everything" and the grizzly, groaning techy roller "Silhouette". Killer new remixes such as Pola & Bryson's subby switch of "Lost Friends", Break's spotless drums on "Confessions" xxx . Plus a few floor-melting VIPs: the relentless bass pump of "Fear Bites" and the cosmic touches to "Wears Me Down". Deluxe and demonstrative - this is a great addition to an already remarkable album.
Review: Jungle's favourite shagoholic Nymfo steps up to Total Science's CIA for the first time in several years and he's making up for lost time: four tracks of forthright D&B, each one catered for a different chapter of the night. "Something Tells Me" eases us in with soulful prowess as Riya coats the liquid riddim with honey, "Barfly" is much more of a bar fight with its tribal-like vocal sample switches, "Stop Motion" is late night Renegade around 2001 with its dense drum work and unforgiving pads while "Bread & Butter" closes the show on a next-century funk tip. Beautiful.
Review: Not just one of drum & bass's most iconic female vocalists, but also one of the most respected... Riya's work behind the scenes goes back around 15 years. As a result she's got serious reference points, a genuine understanding of proper drum & bass and a really impressive debut album that features some of the best names in D&B. Ranging from the sci-fi soars and twinkling synths of "Misunderstanding" to the out-and-out gutter slaps of "Piece Of Me" via the soul jazz jungle lushness of "Don't You Know" and the already massive lighter-raiser "As Soon As". Released at a time when a lot of female features are popping up in D&B for all the wrong reasons, Riya is the real deal... And so is this album.
Review: Riya gets her own release. It's about freaking time. The soulful siren of the underground for ten years, there aren't many people who are better connected or more respected amongst the 'good guys' of UK, European and Brazilian drum and bass than this lady. She's a force to be reckoned with. Working with Dynamite MC, Villem, McLeod and Break on this stunner of a two-track, the beats drop hard and the bass rolls deep. But really, what did you expect? If you call yourself a drum and bass fan, pick this up as soon as your fingers stop tapping to the sample of "I Don't Need".
Review: It seems the full CIA cast list has come out for this entirely massive release and holy moly is it a large one. Kicking things off with the legendary Total Science guys and the one and only S.P.Y headed up by Chroma on remix duties, "Whoonga" is a relentless roller, pushing on through dark bass and sparks of light from harsh pads and electric samples. In "Stoned", Calibre calms his intensity levels for a chill roller packed with lucid dreamy sounds and tight percussion. Riya joins old friends Total Science to lend her sultry vocals to a crisp, soulful stepper in "Walk The Same Lines" and Utopia henchman Mako
Review: Following numerous successful releases of late, now Foreign Concept returns to the Critical spotlight. Bringing together the talents of Sabre and Riya alongside the man himself, "Injustice" is a gorgeous piece with Riya's iconic voice lending a ballad like quality, with Sabre and Foreign Concept's combined efforts on production the beats are crisp and on-point with murmuring piano keys and gentle waves of bass beneath. We then turn our attention to "Affliction" with Foreign Concept and Riya again succeeding in crafting a lovely slice of deepness with minimal beats. Classy D&B at its best - get involved.
Review: Enei is an artist who has been massively blowing up in the D&B scene in the past year, and here he cements his reputation as one of Saint Petersburg's finest on Kasra's Critical imprint. The title track "Stonehead" is all trademark sharp, snapping breaks punctuated by a vitriolic gangster-style vocal urging us to "trust me", with a rolling b-line below. "No Fear", up next, features the lyrical prowess of Riya, who brings in a female Kemo style rap vocal to fidgeting drums and Ramadanman-meets-Rockwell SFX. Enei ups the dancefloor vibes in "Movin Fast" which has a trancey synth-led intro, with punchy drums and warping SFX, dropping into a bonafide banger. Last and not least, Jubei goes in on the remix duties for previous hit "Cracker", transforming it into an even moodier meditation.
Review: A joyous and soulful D&B tune from production duo Total Science, who have great form with releases on Metalheadz, True Playaz and DJ Marky's Innerground label. "Redlines" is a proper standout, largely thanks to the soft and seductive vocals of Riya which balances out the beats nicely. With the vocals syncing so sweetly with the chopped up chords of "Redlines", Total Science thankfully let the track breathe and don't over egg the tune at all. "Flipside Skinz" makes the perfect companion - coming in harder with more attitude via some sick basslines and drums. Another quality cut from a team who know the art of drum and bass back to front.